While the future of the plan for a High Line-style QueensWay park is still unknown, the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) recently launched a design competition to help us visualize what the abandoned train track could look like if it were transformed into an urban greenway. Back in September, the ENYA challenged architects around the globe to re-imagine the three-and-a-half mile stretch of elevated tracks spanning Rego Park, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, and Ozone Park. Entrants were asked to design a vertical gateway near the greenway’s entrance at the corner of Fleet and Selfridge Streets. Read on to see the winning submissions.
The winner of the competition was Carrie Wibert, a designer hailing from Paris, and her “Queensway Steps” concept. The 1st place design would reinvent the former Rockaway Beach LIRR line into an aqueduct-like structure with tapering arches and stairways in the background ascending to the pedestrian walkway some 15 feet above street level.
The second place design, called the “Queens Billboard”, by Nikolay Martynov reimagined the elevated rails would be better seen from even farther way with a wire frame billboard. More than just a show piece from afar, the concept also suggested adding rising paths to let pedestrians ascend up to the top of the billboard to see even more panoramic views of central Queens.
In third place, Song Deng’s “Make It! Grow It!” would modernize the Queensway’s rusted metal structure with a thinner, black foot bridge. The floating park would feature tall grasses and trees along the path. Meanwhile, on the street level new businesses would also crop up underneath the bridge.
In an honorably mentioned design, Hyontek Yoon, a local designer from Queens, drew up the “Upside Down Bridge.” In a complete shift from the previous designs, Upside Down Bridge removes parts of the elevated metal structure, leaving the struts as a scaffolding to build a sloping path.
Students were also part of the competition and the winning design from educational institutions was Jessica Shoemaker’s Ebb & Flow. The concept imagined building a new park to green up Public School 65, which is just a few blocks from the end of the QueensWay.
Currently the QueensWay stands as an aging metal structure where a wild and wondrous forest has taken root in a place of abandoned industry. But a Community Board 5 meeting recently voted 36-2 in favor of reactivating the train line for a direct connection from central Brooklyn to central Queens. A new train line would help ease traffic in the area and make the trip to Brooklyn much faster.